LINCOLN COUNTY, N.C. — Family, friends and fellow firefighters will gather Tuesday in Lincoln County to say their final goodbyes to a fallen firefighter.
Joshua Warren died last week after suffering a medical emergency.
On Monday, dozens paid their respects in a somber procession in Denver, North Carolina.
Warren was only 34-years-old and leaves behind a wife and two small children, ages 4 and 8.
His loved ones rode on his favorite truck -- Engine 34 -- as it carried his casket to the Westport Baptist Church on Monday.
"When they hear Engine 34 coming they knew it was Josh," Dion Burleson said.
Warren worked for the East Lincoln Fire Department and part-time for the Alexis Lucia-Riverbend Fire Department.
Last Thursday, Warren was on duty with Alexis when he experienced a medical emergency while exercising at East Lincoln Middle School.
One woman Channel 9 spoke with said her son fought fires alongside Warren and it was important that she attend the procession.
“I’ve never seen one,” the woman said. “I’m not here to just see it. I'm here to pay my respects to him, his last goodbye.”
Fellow firefighters remembered him as a great man.
“He exemplified integrity and he exemplified a hero,” said Denver Fire Department Chief Dion Burleson. “When it's time to go to work, we stand as one, we fight as one and we mourn as one."
The 34-year-old fireman collapsed last week during physical training and died at the hospital hours later.
It was a devastating blow to the firemen who worked with him at the East Lincoln, Alexis and Lucia River Bend fire departments.
"He was a great fireman, a trusted member of the children and a loving father," Burleson said.
Two children got onto the two-way radio while riding Engine 34 Monday.
They said, "I love you, Daddy.”
Every fireman near a two-way radio heard it. "That was such an emotional moment," Burleson said.
Fellow firefighters walked behind Engine 34 as it carried the coffin to Warren's burial site near Westport Baptist Church. Then 911 dispatch saluted him.
"Calling Josh Warren," the dispatcher said and then bid him farewell.
"Your service is complete," the dispatcher said.
Firefighters from departments throughout the region will continue to answer calls for firefighters who worked with Warren.
They will do that until they are comfortable that the grieving process is over.
The funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Westport Baptist Church.
The burial will follow in the church graveyard attached to the church property.
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